The Great Hall Exhibit: Signs of Compassion—Celebrating a Poem, as Photographed by Miggs Burroughs

Friday, May 19, 2017 - Thursday, Aug 31, 2017

Westport photographer/graphic artist and the Library's Artist-in-Residence Miggs Burroughs pairs his signature, "animated" lenticular imagery with the visual poetry of American Sign Language (ASL) to express a poem about compassion by Emily Dickinson. Entitled "Signs of Compassion," the exhibit features 30 Westporters signing segments of the short poem, written around 1864, that begins "If I can stop one heart from breaking." With the exception of Noah Steinman, who's a fluent signer and helped Burroughs pose each person's hands as closely as possible to the actual ASL signs, the people in the images are neither deaf nor fluent signers. Rather they volunteered to help Burroughs introduce this simple but powerful poem to both the hearing and hearing-impaired communities in a purely visual way.

Learn more about American Sign Language.

An opening reception for the artist will be held in The Great Hall on Friday, May 26, from 6-7:30 pm.

On Wednesday, June 14, from 6-7 pm, the Library will continue its Artist-to-Artist series in The Great Hall, with Burroughs changing seats this time from doing the interviewing to being interviewed by fellow Westport artist Katherine Ross.

On Thursday, August 17 from 6-8 pm, see a screening of the documentary Emily Dickinson: My Letter to the World, an in-depth examination of the life and work of America’s greatest female poet. Writer and Dickinson scholar Jerome Charyn will introduce the film (which is narrated by Cynthia Nixon) and afterward lead a Q/A with producer Sol Padopoulos.

A closing reception and celebration of Miggs Burroughs year as Artist-in-Residence will be held in The Great Hall on Thursday, August 24 from 6-8 pm

A lifelong resident of Westport and a full-time graphic artist since 1972, Burroughs has designed hundreds of logos, ads, brochures and now websites for commercial and nonprofit clients throughout Fairfield County. Among his most notable projects have been designing the Westport Town Flag, an Easter Egg for Reagan's White House (which is now housed in the Smithsonian Institution), a U.S. Postage Stamp, four covers for TIME Magazine and, more recently, Tunnel Vision on Main Street. As a member of the Silvermine Guild in New Canaan and of the Westport Arts Center, he has won much acclaim for his cutting-edge lenticular imagery and is one of only about a dozen artists in the country working in this medium.

A 1967 graduate of the Carnegie Tech drama department in Pittsburgh (now Carnegie Mellon University), Burroughs says that his short-lived career in theater "began and ended with an audition for The Graduate, when an actor of questionable talent, named Dustin Hoffman, got the part of Benjamin."

Dan Woog's O6889: "Miggs Burroughs’ Signs Of Compassion"

On display May 19-July 27. Artist reception: Friday, May 26 from 6-7:30 pm in the Great Hall

Wednesday, June 14 at 6 pm:
Artist-to-Artist Talk—Miggs Burroughs discusses his work with Westport artist Katherine Ross. 

Image at top: Welcome spelled in ASL

Migg's presentation at the CT State Capitol for Arts Day, speaking about the background and preparation of this exhibit

July 2016 Westport News article on Miggs

Dan Woog 06880 article on Miggs as Artist-in-Residence

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